Integrated Annual Report 2015
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13. Product responsibility (PR)

13.1 Customer Health and Safety (PR)

Management Approach – Customer Health and Safety

For Geberit, high quality standards mean fulfilling customers’ requirements in terms of functionality, reliability and application safety to the greatest possible extent. The company is guided by the zero-error principle. Corporate Quality Management is responsible for ensuring that suitable framework conditions promote a quality culture throughout the company, and that all employees act in a quality-conscious and independent manner.

Products undergo a defined optimisation process from the first draft. Product Development is responsible for ensuring that the products developed are safe and user-friendly, and that they comply with all standards and statutory requirements. As an independent department, Quality Management is responsible for defining, arranging and monitoring all necessary inspections to ensure that these requirements are met. A clear organisational distinction is drawn between development and quality management. In addition, many products are also examined by external authorisation bodies.

Following market launch, an efficient handling of complaints with integrated error analysis, the initiation of sustained corrective measures and the continuous development of concepts for customer support takes place in cooperation with Sales, Production and Development. Geberit has achieved a high standard in the processing of complaints, and reacts directly and in a solution-oriented manner in each individual case.

When it comes to training its employees on Geberit products, competition, standards, industry or core topics, Geberit relies on a bundle of measures. These include a Group-wide eLearning platform rolled out in the autumn of 2012 as well as global product training by specially trained instructors. E-learning modules on the topics of drinking water hygiene, acoustics, fire protection, sanitary systems and piping systems were successfully developed in 2015 in connection with the integration of Sanitec. In addition, a multi-part eLearning module was created for innovation training.

Product Development and Quality Management are responsible for customer health and safety.

G4-PR1 Health and safety impact along the product life cycle

Generally speaking, Geberit products and services involve low risks for customers in terms of health and safety. Geberit nevertheless adopts a preventive approach within the scope of its comprehensive quality planning in order to test and ensure the health and safety requirements of all products from development to certification, through manufacture and storage, to use and disposal. Among other things, Quality and Safety Management include an FMEA (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis) as a precautionary measure to prevent errors and increase the technical reliability of products. Eco-design workshops are held in the course of product development in order to optimise the use of suitable and ecological materials. If the products or their use involve an increased risk to health or safety, Geberit’s technical editorial staff ensures that this is communicated appropriately to customers, see  G4-PR3.

G4-PR2 Non-compliance with health and safety regulations

Throughout the Group, there were no court judgements or warnings against Geberit in the reporting period involving contraventions of regulations on the health and safety of products and services or product and service information.

13.2 Product and Service Labeling (PR)

Management Approach – Product and Service Labeling

Corporate Marketing is responsible for the labelling of products and services.

Conveying product and application information in accordance with laws, standards and target groups is one of the main tasks of the Product Communication department (Technical Documentation) that forms part of Corporate Marketing at Geberit. A comprehensive portfolio of various document types and publication channels is available for this purpose. In the area of assembly and installation, Geberit focuses on multicultural and generally understandable images comprising detailed illustrations and guiding symbols. On top of this, more far-reaching information is provided for the plumber, architect and engineer target groups via various handbooks and skills brochures. In addition, product and safety data sheets are available for all products and target groups.

The end user target group is becoming more and more important in the conveying of product information, as Geberit is addressing end users with more and more products. Geberit ensures safe handling and correct labelling by means of detailed operating documentation based on the prevailing standards and laws.

With the takeover of Sanitec, the number of advisors employed in the sales force in Europe was increased by around 200, and now totals more than 800. They are in daily contact with customers and decision-makers. When aligning the future sales organisation, the focus was on meeting the specific needs of wholesalers, plumbers, planners, architects, building owners and end users. A clear focus on the key customer groups in the respective markets therefore takes precedence over advisors specialising in particular product groups such as ceramic appliances or piping systems. This resulted in all advisors having to expand their product knowledge; while the advisors from the old Geberit familiarised themselves with the world of ceramic products, the advisors from the former Sanitec had to immerse themselves in the sanitary technology sold by Geberit.

By the end of the year, all local sales companies had realigned their organisations and effectively ceased to operate two separate businesses.

Another central instrument for retaining customers is Geberit’s broad range of training opportunities. During the reporting year, around 30,000 customers were once again provided with education and further training on Geberit products and software tools at the 25 Geberit information centres in Europe and overseas. Geberit training for customers is not designed as pure product training but includes a high level of knowledge transfer on important core topics.

This range of opportunities was expanded by a large number of activities at the showrooms of the former Sanitec in which the current ceramic appliance and matching furniture series are exhibited. These showrooms – many of which are situated at good pedestrian locations – will continue to be used for training and information events as well as general sales support.

G4-PR3 Product labeling

Products involving the use of electricity, gas or dangerous substances – or those containing such substances – need to be appropriately labelled in accordance with the prevailing standards and laws. This includes providing information about the target group and its qualifications as well as the intended use and the existence of substances subject to labelling requirements. The distributor/supplier must publish this information in a national language of the target market in accordance with the prevailing laws and regulations. Whenever possible, plastic components must feature material labelling in order to facilitate recycling.

Nine Geberit product groups – a total of over 500 sales products – carry the WELL-Label (Water Efficiency Label) of the European umbrella organisation for valve manufacturers EUnited which was introduced in 2011 and in doing so represent over 17% of Group sales. In addition, collaboration took place with FECS (European Federation of Ceramic Sanitary Ware Manufacturers) to draw up a new European standard for assessing the sustainability of ceramic sanitary appliances (EN 16578).

G4-PR4 Non-compliance with labeling requirements

In the reporting period, there were no known cases of violation of applicable laws or voluntary codes. The need to translate product information into more languages was identified in some cases.

G4-PR5 Customer satisfaction

The close contact with plumbers and sanitary planners remained a focus of numerous marketing activities. Existing and proven measures such as customer visits, training and the publication of regularly updated technical documentation and apps were continued. The “Geberit On Tour” campaign, which has been organised in numerous markets since 2011, was also continued. This involved specially fitted-out showroom mobiles visiting local and regional wholesalers and offering plumbers the opportunity to assess Geberit innovations and solutions directly on site. In this way, over 31,000 visitors were addressed at more than 1,000 events in 18 countries in 2015.

A high degree of customer satisfaction in the regional markets is central to Geberit’s success as a company. Surveys of the Geberit AquaClean brand and the shower toilet category were therefore once again carried out at end users in all 13 campaign markets in 2015. In addition to sociodemographic data, information is also provided on the respective awareness of the products, attitude and behavioural parameters, and also the perception of the brand and the most important competitors. With a view to sustainable customer satisfaction, the studies document a very high recommendation rate: An average of over 70 percent of all Geberit AquaClean owners would recommend the purchase of a Geberit AquaClean shower toilet. The repurchase rate – i.e. the number of end users who would buy another shower toilet from Geberit – is equally high at just under 71 percent (on average). These results even exceed 85 percent in some individual markets. The consistently positive survey results reflect the success of market cultivation in the individual countries. As well as the high product satisfaction, the intensive customer support provided by trained specialists and Geberit’s customer service have proven to be sustainable success factors for company growth.

For further information, see  Business Report > Business and financial review > Financial Year 2015 > Customers.

13.3 Compliance Product Responsibility (PR)

Management Approach – Compliance – Product Responsibility

See #13_1" title="Link to 13. Product responsibility (PR)"> Management approach customer health and safety and  chapter Society.

G4-PR9 Sanctions due to non-compliance with product liability regulations

No sanctions have been imposed in connection with Geberit products and services or their use.